Niger-Delta Avengers, NDA yesterday said they had concluded plans to attack installations in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Calabar. Also yesterday soldiers raided Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State and home base of ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
The troops arrived by 12.30am with two gunboats in search for members of the NDA who had resumed the bombings of oil installation in the state. The military men departed around 5am. Sources say the Army reportedly acted on intelligence report that the militants had secretly met in the community.
The Pere (traditional ruler) of Gbaramatu Kingdom, HRM Oboro-Gbaraun II, Aketekpe Agadaba,yesterday, offered to mediate in the face-off between the Federal Government and Tompolo, despite his dissatisfaction over neglect of the kingdom by government. But the Niger-Delta Avengers, have denied affiliations with Tompolo. Sources say that leaders of the militants group reviewed their operations and are content with the way it has crippled the oil operations in Delta state and will continue bombing until Buhari addresses their demands.
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Co-ordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh (retd), believes in the ability of the military and other security agencies to catch those behind the recent bombings of oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta.
“None of these elements will go unpunished for their nefarious acts against the interest of the nation,” said Boroh.
Boroh also said following the presidential directive to arrest the situation, he was confident that the perpetrators will be arrested soon.
Oodua Defenders Union, ODU, described the threat by NDA, to attack Lagos is an insult on the Yoruba race.
General, Rabak Anthony President of the group warns the Ijaw youth against any attack in Lagos or any part of Yorubaland.
“This Ijaw threat that was published in all the media, both electronic and print, cannot be taken for granted. Therefore, the Yoruba are ready to make the first move against the Ijaws in Lagos before their brothers will storm Lagos.
“We fought the Ijaws here in Lagos before because of this arrogance and they know we are ready for them. They came here about five years ago to attack the Atlas Cove where Naval officers guarding tank farms were killed. So, we are not taking this threat without preparation. We are ready, let them make the move.” said the Oodua Defenders Union.
The group said its members, spread across the South-West, could deal with the Ijaw threat, asking security agents to go after the Niger Delta Avengers.
A former militant leader and member of the Delta State Waterways and Land Security Committee, Mr. Goodday Smith, yesterday, denied being a member of Niger Delta Avengers.
He said: “Those who are aggrieved in one way or the other with the Federal Government should channel their grievances to the appropriate quarters, instead of engaging in such acts of destruction of oil installations.”
Ijaw leader and Ibibenimowei (Chief Mobilizer) of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekam, who confirmed the invasion of Oporoza by soldiers said
“No arrest was made and there was no casualty, but they sent a wrong signal to the people. They came in two gunboats and people ran for their lives.
“They were armed and nobody could approach them as they moved about the community, going from one place to the other. After they left this morning (Monday), there was tension everywhere as people did not know what their mission was and what next.
“Gbaramatu people are not part of Niger Delta Avengers, which claimed responsibility for the recent bombing of oil installations in the state and can never be part of them. We condemn their actions and are against pipeline vandalism of any sort. So, we do not see why the army should turn our community to a hunting ground.”
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, first met with some security chiefs from Navy and Army, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and some other officials of government yesterday evening, before he met with many stakeholders, among them were the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson; the Amanyanabo of Toun Brass, Bayelsa State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff in company of the representatives of major oil firms, which included Shell, Total, AGIP, NLNG and Chevron on behalf of the matter.
HRM Oboro-Gbaraun II, Aketeke Agadaba, in a statement, said:
“Tompolo is one of my illustrious subjects. It is therefore, incumbent on me to set machinery in place to intervene in this matter. In as much as it is apparently a legal issue, political solution cannot be completely ruled out and so I am desirous to see this matter resolved amicably.
“Mr President will agree with me that this matter has generated so much tension in the Niger Delta in recent times, and in my opinion, such tension is unnecessary at this point in time, as peace is very necessary for this administration to deliver the promised dividends of democracy to the people.
“I wish to state my total abhorrence of pipeline vandalism and other criminal activities in the region because such would hinder economic progress and development in the region. “One of my priorities as the Pere of Gbaramatu is to ensure that the area is free of crimes such as illegal crude oil refining as such acts do not only affect the economy of the country, but also destroy the ecology which is very dear to me and my people.”
The South-East caucus of All Progressives Congress, APC, has asked Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, to blame former President Goodluck Jonathan, if there was anything to avenge the government for and called on the militants to give President Buhari more time to look into their demands.
Reports say that there are divisions among groups in the region over whether or not to support the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers and the continued hunt for Tompolo by security agents. Niger Delta Riverine Security slammed NDA, which it described as “
a criminal and devilish group, which is interested in turning the Niger Delta into a region where the safety of lives and property is not guaranteed.”
Commandant-General of the organisation, Commander Oduku, said:
“The group (Niger Delta Avengers) is interested in crippling economic activities in the Niger Delta and Nigeria. I advise Niger Delta youths not to fraternize with these criminals.”
Spokesperson of non-operational Niger Delta Liberation Front, NDLF, “Captain” Mark Anthony, said
“If they have genuine intentions for the region, they should be bold enough to come out and make their demands known. When we were carrying out our activities under the leadership of the late “General” John Togo, we did not hide our identity.”
President of Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Udengs Eradiri, said:
“This is what we were avoiding and President Buhari should be blamed for anything that is currently happening in the region. “He has not come up with an economic plan for the region since his assumption of office. All his plans, including the budget, have no reflection that economic activities would blossom in the region and once you keep these youths idle, they become the devil’s workshop.
Some militant leaders, under the backing of other Concerned Militant Leaders, have thrown their weight behind NDA. A statement by their spokesperson, “General” Ben, said:
“We are in total support of the actions of our colleagues, and the Federal Government should know that the attacks on oil installations in the region will continue if it fails to address topical issues affecting the people of the area.”